What is Abuse?

Did you know that according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ” 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder… etc?”

No one intentionally becomes involved with an abusive partner, but it happens all the time. Some victims of intimate relationship abuse don’t realize that is what they are experiencing?

abuse definition

Abuse is defined as,

“Treat[ing] (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.”

Google Dictionary
Physical abuse

Physical abuse is intentionally causing physical harm. This includes, but is not limited to, punching, hitting, cutting, slapping, burning, bruising, pushing, or restraining another individual.

Physical harm that is inflicted from another person is defined as physical abuse regardless if bruising, bleeding, or breaking of bones is present. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.”

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Those who abuse try to inflict fear or pain on others to gain power over them. This fear or pain can be caused by any combination of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual means.

Types of emotional and/or psychological abuse include

  • Humiliation,
  • Using guilt
  • Criticizing
  • Public embarrassment
  • Patronizing
  • Yelling
  • Belittling your accomplishments
  • Commenting negatively on your appearance,
  • Threats,
  • Monitoring and controlling your actions
  • Jealousy
  • Blaming you for their problems
  • Withholding socialization
  • Name-calling
Sexual abuse

The legal definition of sexual abuse is

1: a: the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion

b: the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity

2: the crime of engaging in or inflicting sexual abuse”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Sexual abuse is when someone is sexually contacted against their will. Sexual abuse can come from a stranger, from someone on a date, and from romantic partners or spouses.

Types of power and intimidation tactics include verbal abuse, interrupting and not letting you speak, blaming you, calling you stupid, public humiliation, strict enforcement of their “rules”, pointing out your “flaws”, seemingly having a dual personality so you never know what to expect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and isolating you or taking away your freedoms.

getting out

Abusers can crush self-esteem, cut off outside relationships, and inflict so much fear that abusees may believe that if they left no one else would want them, they have nowhere else to go, or may fear for their lives if they were to leave. Abusers want their abusees to depend on them and continue controlling them.

The Help Guide has many great articles about how to go about leaving, how to plan for leaving, how to stay safe if you do stay with your abuser, etc. One such article is How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship.

For additional help, there are a number of hotlines you can call. Some of these include www.thehotline.org, https://www.rainn.org, and https://www.acf.hhs.gov.

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